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Moors is used in this article to describe the medieval Muslim inhabitants of al-Andalus and the Maghreb, whose culture is often called "Moorish". For other meanings look at Moors (Meaning) or Blackamoors.

The name derives from the ancient Berber tribe of the Mauri and their kingdom, Mauretania, which became a Roman province after its last king Bocchus II willed it to Octavian in 33 BC. Mauretania lay in present day Morocco and Western Algeria. The name of Mauri was applied by the Romans to all non-romanized natives of North Africa still ruled by their own chiefs, until the 3rd century AD.

In AD 711, some Moors invaded Visigoth Christian Spain. Under their leader Tariq ibn-Ziyad they brought most of Spain and Portugal under Islamic rule in an eight-year campaign. They attempted to move northeast across the Pyrenees Mountains but were defeated by the Frank Charles Martel at the Battle of Tours in 732. The Moors ruled in Spain and Portugal, except for small areas in the northwest and largely Basque regions in the Pyrenees, and in North Africa for several decades. The Moorish state suffered civil conflict in the 750s.

The country then broke up into a number of mostly Islamic fiefdoms, which were consolidated under the Caliphate of Cordoba. Christian states based in the north and west slowly extended their power over Spain. Galicia, León, Navarre, Aragon, Catalonia or Marca Hispanica, Portugal and eventually Castile became Christian in the next several centuries. This period is known for the tolerant acceptance of Christians, Muslims and Jews living in the same territories. Although, the Caliphate of Córdoba collapsed in 1031 and the Islamic territory in Spain came to be ruled by North African Moors.

In 1212 a coalition of Christian kings under the leadership of Alfonso VIII of Castile drove the Muslims from Central Spain. However the Moorish Kingdom of Granada thrived for three more centuries. This kingdom is known in modern times for such architectural gems as the Alhambra. On January 2 1492, Boabdil, the leader of the last Muslim stronghold in Granada surrendered to armies of a recently united Christian Spain. The remaining Muslims were forced to leave Spain or convert to Christianity. These descendants of the Muslims were named moriscos. They were an important portion of the peasants in some territories, like Aragon, Valencia or Andalusia, until their systematic expulsion in the years from 1609 to 1614. Henre Lapeyre has estimated that this affected 300,000 out of a total of 8 million inhabitants at the time. The expelled Moors mostly went to Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, and helped to develop their culture.

In heraldry the Moor is shown as Sub-Saharan African.

See also: Islamic architecture, Othello, the Moor of Venice

Not to be confused with moor land.

Last updated: 02-07-2005 05:21:29
Last updated: 02-20-2005 07:07:52